The United Arab Emirates are the land of opportunities for the new rich. There, in the middle of the desert, they can splurge as badly as they want. And so did a foreign businessman, who lives there. He paid 33 million dirhams ($9 million) for a Dubai license plate number 5 for one of his Rolls Royces.
One of the mysteries of the economy is how the money trickles down and spreads across the food chain. So, we don’t know how many people will eventually benefit from the whimsical purchase. Perhaps these dollars will end up paying salaries in the hospitality sector, construction workers and others. We simply do not know, unless we track down every banknote.
The man who bought Dubai’s number 5 license plate is a recidivist. Last year, he spent $6 million on the number 9 license plate at Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority auction. There are more acute cases than his. In 2008, another businessman paid 14.3 million for the number 1 license plate of Abu Dhabi.
Obviously, men of such wealth are not fools (assuming they made their money, as opposed to inheriting it). And yet, one wonders if it is indeed an instance of fool parting with its money. As this news comes from that geography, one also wonders why we hear no news about any of this money going to help refugees fleeing for their lives in that very neighborhood, where men pay millions to flaunt single digit license plates on their luxury cars. And one may go on wondering, and wondering.